Everyday heroes: 19 of the year's most inspirational, heart-tugging stories

We all crave a little good news, and when it comes courtesy of everyday heroes, so much the better.

There were plenty to choose from in 2019. Here are 19 examples that may inspire you this holiday season:

1. College students raise $400G for worthy cause

Thousands of college students gather at Passion 2019 to help raise money to reach nations and people that have never heard the gospel before.

Thousands of college students gather at Passion 2019 to help raise money to reach nations and people that have never heard the gospel before. (Roxy Moure/Passion 2019)

Almost 40,000 college students kicked off the year at the Passion Conference in Atlanta, where they raised over $400,000 to translate the Bible for deaf people across the world.

The students, who gathered for three days in four different locations, raised $448,370 for the Deaf Bible Society as part of Hope in Every Language, a campaign that helps fund and distribute translations of the stories of Jesus into sign language.

2. Iowa firefighters deliver baby, shovel driveway

When a pregnant woman went into labor in her living room on a frigid January weekday, some responding firefighters assisted by shoveling her driveway. 

When a pregnant woman went into labor in her living room on a frigid January weekday, some responding firefighters assisted by shoveling her driveway.  (Larissa Ruffin)

Firefighters in Iowa rescued a pregnant woman in more ways than one.

First responders on a frigid day in January first helped deliver the woman's baby inside her Cedar Rapids home. But after mother and newborn were safely taken to the hospital, firefighters went beyond the call of duty, bringing at least one family member to tears.

They shoveled the driveway.

3. North Carolina 'Miracle on Ice'

A North Carolina doctor saved a fellow hockey player's life during a pick-up game in January.

Jib Street, a native of Canada who has been playing hockey his whole life, said it was a miracle that he was "skating with an emergency room doctor," Dr. Craig Bryant, whom he called his "guardian angel."

4. Retired police officers' 'perfect match'

A pair of retired cops who were partners on the beat were united in a different way after one was found to be a perfect kidney match for the other.

They shared the good news with a clever card on Feb. 14, which happens to be National Donor Day.

“So I heard urine need of a kidney,” Megan Ambrose wrote to her former Montgomery County partner, Stanley Barsch. “Want mine? Turns out that we are a perfect match… Not only on the job but in blood and organs too. You always had my back on the road and off. Now you can have my kidney.”

In May, Barsch celebrated the procedure, thanking Ambrose for the "gift of life."

5. Boy, 10, runs mile for every fallen officer

Zechariah Cartledge, a 10-year-old from Florida, is on a mission to support police officers and fallen heroes: one mile and one dollar at a time.

He has dedicated each mile he runs to a fallen police officer, publicly sharing their stories after saying a quick prayer. Since his announcement in March, he has raised $50,788.

6. Nurse adopts girl who had no visitors

A Massachusetts nursing director who at the end of each workday visited hospitalized infants to help cheer them up is now one girl’s mother.

Liz Smith volunteered to foster Gisele when the state gained custody of her in October 2016.  The girl had been diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome due to her birth mother’s drug use during pregnancy .

At the hospital, Smith noticed that Gisele had no visitors.

Now the two have gone from caregiver and patient to mother and daughter.

7. Man named Miracle saved woman who plunged into creek

Chris Miracle, 26, is credited with saving a woman's life during early Wednesday morning in Manntown.

Chris Miracle, 26, is credited with saving a woman's life during early Wednesday morning in Manntown. (Courtesy of Chris Miracle)

"Miracles do happen here."

That's the slogan for Christian Miracle's family business in Baker County, Fla., and true to life, he was credited with saving a woman's life during an April accident.

The 26-year-old Miracle found a 77-year-old woman trapped in her vehicle that had plunged headfirst into a creek. His intuition to check on strange lights in the woods was an answer to her prayer for help.

His family's company towed her car to safety for free.

8. Maryland teens on prom night shocked by kindness of stranger

An older woman paid for the dinner of a group of kids from Clarksburg High School on prom night. (Therese de Leonn)

An older woman paid for the dinner of a group of kids from Clarksburg High School on prom night. (Therese de Leonn)

A woman in Maryland made a generous gift to a group of teens she apparently didn't know, paying for the Clarksburg High School students' dinner on prom night.

“What we will never forget were the kind words she left with us. Before we left her table she reminded us to ‘always love ourselves’ and to remember that ‘we are beautiful inside and out,’" one of the students told Fox 5.

9. Virginia wrestler befriends man he saved from jumping off bridge

Collin Dozier, 31, saved 27-year-old Jacob's life after he attempted suicide a few weeks ago. Now the two go to church together as Jacob is working to get his life back.

Collin Dozier, 31, saved 27-year-old Jacob's life after he attempted suicide a few weeks ago. Now the two go to church together as Jacob is working to get his life back. (Trinity Church)

A Virginia Beach man was given the city's "Lifesaving Award" in May for rescuing a suicidal man, but he told Fox News "God put me there."

Collin Dozier, 31, a four-time state wrestling champion and coach, used one of his wrestling moves to prevent a man named Jacob from jumping off a bridge. Today, Jacob is turning his life around, and the men attend the same church.

10. Fast-food workers to the rescue

Jené Walker captured a Chick-fil-A employee walking over to a nearby Popeyes and handing out free sandwiches to Popeyes employees.

Jené Walker captured a Chick-fil-A employee walking over to a nearby Popeyes and handing out free sandwiches to Popeyes employees. (Courtesy of Jené Walker)

Cick-fil-A is known for its chicken sandwiches, but some of the chain's employees were unsung heroes in 2019.

Amid the heated "chicken war" of 2019, a Chick-fil-A manager in Greensboro, N.C., served up some sandwiches as a peace offering to "stressed out" Popeyes workers that had run out of their new version of the chicken sandwich in August.

A California Chick-fil-A employee, Tauya Nenguke, 22, was credited with saving a man's life after he sprang into action in the parking lot.

Another employee was celebrated for climbing down a storm drain to retrieve a customer's phone.

11. Homeless man baptized in church he vandalized

Brenton Winn, 23, pictured on the left vandalizing Central Baptist Church of Conway, Ark., and on the right, he is being baptized in the same church during a Wednesday night service, just months later.

Brenton Winn, 23, pictured on the left vandalizing Central Baptist Church of Conway, Ark., and on the right, he is being baptized in the same church during a Wednesday night service, just months later. (Conway Police Department/Central Baptist Church)

A homeless man high on drugs entered an Arkansas church in February and destroyed $100,000 worth of property, but six months later, he returned to the scene of the crime to be reborn.

Brenton Winn, 23, standing in the Conway church's baptismal pool, declared his allegiance to Christ. Members of Central Baptist Church warmly granted Winn a second chance.

12. Boy with failing heart scores 'touchdown'

"This was so much bigger than football."

That's how 12-year-old Austin Booth's mom, Angela, described his wish come true.

Austin, who has congenital heart disease and is in heart failure, meaning he cannot have a transplant, was carried onto a Florida football field by players. As he crossed the goal line, everyone cheered.

13. Man runs race in SWAT gear, saves life and proposes

Chicago Police Sgt. Mike Nowacki planned on running the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Run in November in full SWAT gear and proposing to his longtime girlfriend, fellow officer Erin Gubala, at the finish line.

But he also managed to save a life along the way.

Nowacki saved a woman who went into cardiac arrest along the race route by administering CPR.  Then he finished the race and got down on one knee as planned.

14. Medical student survives multiple brain surgeries 

Claudia Martinez, 28, of Houston, Texas is now in her fourth year at the University of Texas Health McGovern Medical School, both as a medical student and patient.

Claudia Martinez, 28, of Houston, Texas is now in her fourth year at the University of Texas Health McGovern Medical School, both as a medical student and patient. (Claudia Martinez)

Claudia Martinez, 28, is a walking miracle. She's also a fourth-year medical student at the same Houston hospital that has treated her through six brain surgeries.

The Brawley, Calif., native wanted to be a doctor since she was a little girl, but she never could have imagined the journey she would take.

Now in her fourth year at the University of Texas medical school, she calls her struggles "a blessing in disguise" because what she endured taught her how to comfort others.

15. 8-year-old who fled Christian persecution inspires many

Until recently, Tanitoluwa "Tani" Adewumi, was living in a homeless shelter in New York City.

Now the 8-year-old is enjoying homecooked meals and winning chess matches. The story of his family fleeing Christian persecution in Nigeria by 
Boco Haram went viral, prompting strangers from across the globe to donate to a GoFundMe page set up to help them.

16. Coffee company surprises single moms with cars

Celeste Bokstrom, a single mom caretaker and who has been without a car, was gifted a vehicle and helped in other significant ways by Burly Man Coffee founders, Tiana and Jeremy Wiles. The company has a goal of giving away 100 cars to single moms across the country.

Celeste Bokstrom, a single mom caretaker and who has been without a car, was gifted a vehicle and helped in other significant ways by Burly Man Coffee founders, Tiana and Jeremy Wiles. The company has a goal of giving away 100 cars to single moms across the country. (Burly Man Coffee)

Burly Man Coffee, a South Florida-based subscription coffee company launched in December 2018, has been giving away cars to single moms in need.

Celeste Bokstrom of Lake Worth, Fla., who is raising a 16-year-old son with severe autism, was the first mother to be helped in March.

Founders Tiana and Jeremy Wiles have set a goal of giving away a hundred cars nationwide.

17. Good Samaritans lift car off boy after he was run over

Leslie Brooke, one of the servers at Logan's Roadhouse who rushed out to help save Titus, brought gifts for him as he recovers at home. Sarah said "we've made a new family friend for life!"

Leslie Brooke, one of the servers at Logan's Roadhouse who rushed out to help save Titus, brought gifts for him as he recovers at home. Sarah said "we've made a new family friend for life!" (Sarah Everett)

An Arkansas family is grateful after their 6-year-old son survived being struck and pinned under a car.

The Everett family was going to lunch at Logan's Roadhouse after their usual Sunday church service in Conway, when Titus, one of their seven boys, was hit by a mid-size SUV in the parking lot.

He was saved when a group of strangers banded together to lift the vehicle.

18. Kindergartener invites entire class to adoption hearing

A Michigan kindergarten class took a one-of-a-kind field trip on Dec. 6. They went to see one of their classmates get adopted, just in time for Christmas.

The Kent County courtroom turned into a classroom as 5-year-old Michael Clark Jr. squirmed in his chair, and supporters from Wealthy Elementary in East Grand Rapids held up hearts on sticks. They watched as foster parents Andrea Melvin and Dave Eaton formally became Michael's adoptive parents, FOX 8 reported.

19. Community throws Christmas party for those in need

It was a Christmas party that dozens of families in Lynchburg, Va., will never forget.

Leah Stauffer, a Liberty University staffer and local wedding photographer, planned the recent five-hour event, which gave more than 60 families free Christmas photos, along with food and fun activities.  Some 40 volunteers participated.